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Kidscommons flushed with excitement

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A part of local tourism is in the toilet — and the Columbus Area Visitors Center couldn’t be happier.

The downtown kidscommons children’s museum’s giant toilet, which twice has received a humorous plug from former “Tonight Show” talk show host Jay Leno, is in the national spotlight again.

The S.C. Johnson Co. is using images of the museum’s playfully oversized commode in its latest social media campaign for the bathroom cleaning product Scrubbing Bubbles.

A representative for the Chicago-based Oglivy Public Relations recently saw the giant toilet online and contacted kidscommons staff about using it.

The museum gave permission for the potty to be used with the cartoonish blue Scrubbing Bubbles added around its edges as part of a promotion, “Summer ’14 Cleancation.” The promotion features the cleaner at various locales around the nation, including Mount Rushmore and the St. Louis Gateway Arch. In one photo, the Scrubbing Bubbles are shown heading over Niagara Falls in barrels.

“Don’t worry, we didn’t shrink,” reads the Facebook message from Scrubbing Bubbles about the kidscommons toilet. “We just stopped at kidscommons children’s museum in Columbus, Indiana, to take a spin in the world’s largest toilet.”

Technically, the 8-year-old, styrofoam-and-fiberglass commode that actually serves as a big slide in kidscommons’ house exhibit, is not the world’s largest toilet, according to Diane Robbins, the museum’s community relations associate.

“But we’re always happy to have our giant toilet acknowledged,” Robbins said.

Though the agreement is one without monetary benefit, Robbins said such attention is tough to get nationally.

“We’ve often talked about getting a commercial sponsor for the toilet,” Robbins said. “I don’t know if something like this would ever be an option.”

The attraction has become the signature symbol of kidscommons in many ways. Even adults on Facebook have snapped silly shots of themselves being “flushed” down the slide and made the images into a profile picture.

And the Columbus visitors center added the toilet to the Saturday morning, twice-monthly, architectural walking tour a couple years ago, according to Lynn Lucas, center executive director.

“We want people to be able to see things they never will see on the bus architectural tour,” she said.

Lucas said people stopped by the visitors center and the museum after Leno’s televised references , once in his lighthearted headlines segment in 2007, and another instance mentioning the giant toilet in a show in 2011.

“Now, we don’t officially document all that (feedback),” Lucas said. “But it’s amazing how these kinds of things gain traction.”

Amid all this current publicity, when nudged, Robbins acknowledged one other bit of lack-of-truth-in-advertising.

The kidscommons giant toilet isn’t actually cleaned with Scrubbing Bubbles. Just plain old vinegar water is used.

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